Tuesday, July 29, 2014

River Des Peres Extension Park

The River Des Peres Extension Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis parks. This 10.76 acre tract of land was placed into ordinance in 1954 and is located between Holly Hills Boulevard and Germania Street in the Boulevard Heights neighborhood.
This park space was nothing but a mowed patch of land before Great Rivers Greenway constructed the amazing ~1 mile Christy Greenway that runs through the park.  This is a series of paved bike/pedestrian trails that are part of the larger River Des Peres Greenway:
The River des Peres Greenway is a developing 11-mile recreation and transportation corridor that will eventually stretch from Forest Park to the Mississippi River. The greenway trail now extends from Lansdowne Avenue to Interstate 55 along the River des Peres, with a one-mile neighborhood connector—the Christy Greenway stretching from Germania Avenue to Holly Hills Boulevard. The greenway also connects to the on-street Bike St. Louis system at Holly Hills Boulevard and the Lansdowne MetroLink station. (source)
Many diverse tree species were planted throughout the park providing interest and shade to an area that was mainly mowed grass.

I love this stretch of trail.  It is such an amazing asset to the area. Even the streets that dead end into the park got the treatment.
There are grand entrances at Holly Hills, Loughborough and Germania Street complete with crosswalks and at the latter two intersections, timed crossings.
This stretch takes you over the River Des Peres on a cool pedestrian-only bridge.
Get on your bikes and ride!

Monday, July 28, 2014

River Des Peres Park

River Des Peres Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis city parks.  This 145 acre park was placed into ordinance in 1926 and is located just south of the Shrewsbury Metrolink stop at Landsdowne on the St. Louis City/St. Louis County border in both the St. Louis Hills and Lindenwood Park neighborhoods, extending all the way to approximately Morgan Ford Road (although the city website claims Landsdowne to Weber Road):

green strip just south of River Des Peres

This park is really a narrow strip of land along the western edge of the city as well as some islands of land in sections where River Des Peres Boulevard splits.  The land in between the north and southbound lanes of River Des Peres should really be no-mow, not unlike much of the easements of I-255 in Illinois.  See the areas to the right in the photos below:

The strip of land to the west of River Des Peres Boulevard has seen some amazing changes in the last year when Great Rivers Greenway has planted hundreds of trees and perennials along this stretch while widening and resurfacing the pedestrian trail.

This park hasn't looked this good in years.

As I mentioned above the park starts at the intersetion of Landsdowne and River Des Peres Blvd at the southern terminus of the Metrolink blue line.

Not unlike my suggestion above for no mow areas, GRG is doing just that in areas marked off for no-mow and perennial plantings.

There is a nice little playground complete with bike racks, benches and trash cans beside a rain garden planted with bald cypress and other water loving species.

The retaining walls on a couple bridges were planted as "living walls" where perennials are planted in patterned spaces on the wall.  This makes for a striking visual interest as well as having a cooling effect on the hard surface.

You'll see several of the stone, brick and slate roof bathroom and utility buildings.

There is also nice baseball and soccer fields.  The nicest being Fultz Field which has my favorite bench shelters in the entire city.

There is a playground in this stretch of the park too, one that as of publishing date is getting a major upgrade to the gym equipment and removal of pea gravel to rubber surfacing.

This park continues with the River Des Peres Extension to connect with the Christy Park Greenway.

The first phase of the River des Peres Greenway Trail opened in 2005. A second phase, Morganford to I-55 opened in the fall of 2008. And now, construction of the third phase from I-55 and Germania to Germania and Alabama is complete.

There are side connectors to the neighborhoods and sub-divisions that borders the park.

This trail system is something special and is one of the best things to happen to the area in the last 10 years.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Joseph Leisure Park

Joseph Leisure Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis parks, located near the intersection of Holly Hills and Christy Boulevard on the border between the Bouleard Heights and Bevo Mill neighborhoods.

Per the city website, the 16.1 acre park was placed into ordinance in 2000; but that seems odd, as this land has been as-is for many more years than that.  It was probably Christy Park until this stretch was renamed as Joseph Leisure Park.  Yahoo maps recognizes the park as the small strip of land bordered by Christy, Rosa and Gravois, but that is too small to meet the 16.1 acre size on the city website.
I believe the park is actually an extension of greenspace connecting Christy Park with the River Des Peres Park.  This is corroborated by the Joe Leisure park signs located at Christy and Gravois and Christy and Holly Hills:
The strip of land is bordered by Gravois, Holly Hills, Rosa and Carlsbad Avenues:
There is nothing on the city website commemorating this Lebanese/Sicilian family nor Joseph Leisure himself.  This is probably due to the fact that his family was one associated with violence, labor union thuggery and murders/car bombings.

To read more about the Leisure's click here.

Christy Avenue bisects the park and has a bike lane on each side of the winding street.
The northeastern side of the park is largely open space with several nice, mature shade and willow trees.
The southwestern side has a bathroom and utility building, playground, soccer and ball field.
Many new trees were planted along Christy as part of the Great Rivers Greenway construction several years ago.  The bike lane connects you to the River Des Peres Greenway or the beautiful Carondelet Park, just east on Holly Hills.